The office of a Catholic bishop in the battleground state of Ohio is coming under criticism from pro-life groups for having a staffer who publicly supports pro-abortion President Barack Obama instruct Catholics on how to vote.
While, last week, referring to President Barack Obama, Archbishop Chaput said he couldn’t vote for someone who is pro-abortion, the office Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon is downplaying the importance of pro-life issues in the presidential election.
Lennon’s office his holding “Faithful Citizenship” meetings purportedly designed to aid Catholics in properly forming their consciences according to the truths of the Catholic faith, which would then guide them in voting on the presidential election. Central among these truths in an election year is the Catholic Church’s teaching that intrinsic evils — actions that are fundamentally and in every circumstance morally wrong, like abortion — may never be supported by faithful Catholics.
However, members of Cleveland Right to Life have attended these meetings recently, and their findings were shocking.
As CRTL informed LifeNews, the Catholic Church’s directive to give pro-life issues primary importance in voting decisions was deliberately confused and downplayed. Attendees’ questions aimed at clarifying this teaching were ignored and one presenter even walked out of more than one meeting to signify he would not tolerate dissension on this pro-life point. Despite huge concerns from the Catholic bishops, discussion of the attack on religious liberty was virtually non-existent at the meeting.
CRTL also said it has learned that one of the “Faithful Citizenship” forum leaders, Karen Leith, a Director in the Diocesan Social Action Office, is not an objective presenter.
“Her Facebook page extols her support of Obama. She is a leader in the League of Women Voters, a national organization that is rabidly pro-abortion. And she is a former board member of Future Church, a local dissident Catholic group denounced by Bishop Anthony Pilla and affiliated with the national Call to Action organization, whose members have been formally excommunicated,” the organization explained.
The entire format of the meetings was restrictive, contrary to being publicized as an “open forum” where questions and comments would be welcome. All questions had to be written, submitted and screened by the presenters, CRTL complained, and no responses from the audience were permitted.
Cleveland Right to Life has sent a formal letter to Bishop Lennon’s office asking him to suspend the Diocese’s “Faithful Citizenship” meetings until faithful staff can be found to lead them.
“What was a great opportunity for the Diocese to inform its people and galvanize them against policies which directly threaten the Catholic Church has been hijacked by open dissidents working to promote their own agenda, not the truths of the Faith,” explained CRTL board member Jerry Cirino. “Catholics should be outraged at this approach, which treats faithful Catholics as unruly children and leaves attendees with the impression that they can vote for the promotion of intrinsic evils and against the interests of the Church and feel good about it.”
“As a Catholic, I am appalled,” added Molly Smith, President of CRTL. “Our Church is under attack by the most liberal abortion party in history, a party that has demonstrated a clear bias against Christians as well. For the Cleveland Catholic Diocese to respond in this manner, missing a great teaching and unifying opportunity, borders on the unforgivable.”
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CRTL’s parent group, Ohio Right to Life is also upset, and sent its own statement to LifeNews.
“Incumbent President Obama is undoubtedly the pro-abortion candidate on the ballot for November’s presidential election, having supported more initiatives to increase abortion than any other president and having worked hand-in-hand with organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. The Faithful Citizenship meetings disregard the pro-abortion stance of both President Obama and Senatorial Candidate Sherrod Brown,” ORTL said.
Ohio Right to Life is asking “that all pro-life Ohioans stand together in asking that the Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland defend life in this crucial time leading up to what will be a pivotal election for our country.”
The bishop’s office has not yet returned an emailed from LifeNews seeking comment.
Bishop Richard Lennon
1404 East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44114
Phone: (216) 696-6525 or 1-800-869-6525 Toll Free in Ohio.